Mar 14, 2007

A Great New Service Called AOL

It's been over 10 years since the techies at work started teasing me about my AOL account. It was then, and still is, considered the beginners' area of the online world. I ended my 56K account with them around the turn of the century. My excuse to hold on to it as long as I did was for "market research," which in the late 90s, it was, since it was by far the most popular way to get online.

Since then I have used AOL's instant messenger from time to time, and that was just about the last service I thought I'd use from my very first ISP. But then I found myself Monday night watching the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame show live online, compliments of AOL. It was a clean stream, very good quality video being delivered for free online. Good for AOL!

It's going to be interesting to see how media brands will rise and fall and rise again. AOL could have some really good services like this one come up, put a unique spin on media delivery and climb to the top again.

For instance, I've said for years that one day I'll be able to get online to watch David Letterman and have a choice to pay for the viewing (minimal... perhaps $.50 per show) or have an advertiser of my choice pay for the episode. If I choose to buy the show commercial-free, then I am either billed via credits to CBS or one of their online vendors (such as a YouTube or other online property).

If I choose to have an advertiser pay the $.50 for the show, then I am given the option of the willing advertisers. It could be anyone from the local merchant to a national brand.

Let me give you an example. I know I need a new pair of jeans, so I enter "jeans" in my search field. My results brings me 3 options: Target, Levi's and Sears. I choose the Sears ad because it promises an automatic 15% discount on any pair of jeans. Then, a video "player" opens up that is branded with Sears' logo and web link, and a 1 minute commercial starts streaming. Depending on how advanced Sears' marketing department is, you'll probably see the video customized based on the "jeans" search. Or, maybe you'll just see an all-inclusive Sears commercial. Regardless, they're paying for your Letterman show, and you're going to see at least a few more Sears "blips" (5 sec. commercials) during the broadcast.

There are a lot of companies - local and national - who are willing to spend $.50 for you to see a one minute presentation, especially if you chose that advertiser based on what you are looking to purchase.

AOL could have had me in the palm of their hands the other night. I would have either purchased or selected an advertiser to bring me the live feed of the RnR HoF ceremony, but they gave it to me for free. If they are to rise again as a Great New Online Service, then they'll have to start inventing new ad strategies like this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Post - I actually kept my personal AOL account (one that I have had since 1994) to test e-mail deliverability for campaigns that I have sent out over the years. Since moving to a free portal, I have been really impressed. One service in particular is AOL Radio They have contract with XM and you can listen to many XM stations online for FREE! :) They do throw in a commercial or two about ever 4th song, but it isn't bad. Well worth stopping by for a listen.